As members of the BDO Alliance USA, our team is excited to once again attend this year's virtual conference, which will be held from May 3-6, 2021. By now, we have all probably adapted to a digital platform. But with the extended tax deadline and additional challenges this year, we thought it would be helpful to share our updated list of tips to make the most out of your virtual conference experience.
BEFORE THE CONFERENCE
1. Decide which sessions you will attend. First things first: Make sure you're registered! Even though you aren’t attending in person, make sure to plan ahead and set time aside for the sessions you want to attend. Utilize the Add to Calendar links on the conference agenda (for BDO Alliance members only) to add sessions directly to your calendar.
2. Familiarize yourself with the speakers. The speakers are always a highlight of the conference. To enhance your experience, find out a little bit about them and their companies. Be sure to visit their websites to get a great idea of who they are, what they do, and what knowledge they can offer you. Don't forget to find and follow them on social media to look for updates or other important information.
3. Find a location to watch with limited interruptions. Whether you will be participating from your office or home office, it’s important to find a quiet location to watch each session. Find a place where you can avoid interruptions so you can get the most from the session and have a chance to follow up with any questions you may have. If you are working from home with other family members or roommates, let them know ahead of time that you will be unavailable during the conference time.
4. Connect on social media. Social media plays a vital role in a virtual conference. Make sure you follow BDO Alliance USA on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter as well as the speakers and other attendees on social media. Social media is a great way to connect and address questions after the conference. It’s also a great way to stay connected with the BDO Alliance and find a way to share the conference with others, even if you can’t be physically present. To stay in the loop on conference happenings, follow (and use!) the hashtag #BDOAllianceRethink.
5. Make a plan for digital networking. Conferences offer more than just education, but also an opportunity to network with other industry professionals and potential clients. When attending a virtual conference, try to make up for the lack of face-to-face networking as much as possible. Before the conference, determine a plan for digital networking, Update your company and personal profiles on the Alliance portal as well as your personal and business social media profiles.
6. Downlad the Virbela app. Speaking of digital networking, this year’s tradeshow will utilize the Virbela app, which allows users to create an avatar, walk through the online campus, and interact in real time. Before the conference begins, take a few minutes to download the BDO Alliance USA Campus app in Virbela, create your profile and avatar, familiarize yourself with its features, and take a tour of the virtual campus.
TIP: Be sure to log in to the conference first thing on Monday morning and set up your conference profile so you're ready to virtually network inside the conference platform too.
DURING THE CONFERENCE
1. Limit distractions. Since you found the perfect place to attend your sessions and let those around you know that you're unavailable, don’t forget to limit distractions so you can fully concentrate on each session. Silence your phone and hide computer notifications. There's nothing like missing some valuable information or a CPE checkpoint because you were distracted by a notification!
2. Divide and conquer with your work team to ensure all sessions are covered. The BDO Alliance conference covers so much information and there are sessions on topics that are relevant to just about every member of your team. Include as many team members as you can so you can all learn about different topics and share the knowledge with each other after the session. Encourage team members to connect with other participants in their sessions so you can take advantage of networking opportunities.
3. Actively participate in each session. Take notes, ask questions, and interact as much as possible. Utilize the interactive tools in the platform to connect with other participants. Staying engaged and participating throughout the sessions makes it possible to stand out in a digital environment just as you would at an in-person event. After each session, take the time to review your notes and jot down your new contacts while the information is still fresh.
4. Don’t miss out on networking opportunities, including the online tradeshow. Even though you can’t attend in person, the BDO Alliance Conference has a special area inside the virtual platform to increase networking opportunities. Since you have already downloaded the new BDO Alliance USA Campus app in Virbela, you will be even more prepared to interact with other conference participants. Don’t miss the tradeshow. Just like you would at an in-person event, plan for your tradeshow visit. Before you go, check the schedule and decide which booths you would like to visit or which contacts you would like to connect with. Virbela allows you to have conversations directly through the platform, so you can network in real time.
5. Utilize social media. Join in the conversation and take full advantage of the opportunity to connect through Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook throughout the conference. Post updates on the sessions you are attending. Remember to keep posting with #BDOAllianceRethink so other participants can find you and you can find them. Make sure to engage by commenting, liking, and sharing posts from others. When your posts from Instagram, Twitter and Facebook include #BDOAllianceRethink, they will also be included on the Social Wall inside the virtual conference platform.
AFTER THE CONFERENCE
1. Thank the team that prepared the conference. Don’t forget to thank and acknowledge the BDO Alliance team for their hard work putting together the conference. Planning a conference isn’t an easy task, but this team has successfully adapted to an online platform for not one, but TWO years, constantly making adjustments and improvements along the way. We’re sending virtual high-fives for a job well done. The BDO Alliance team never disappoints!
2. Take some time to process everything you learned. Don’t lose the momentum! When the conference is over, do a brain dump. Review your notes and make plans to incorporate new ideas and takeaways. Meet (online) with your team to discuss new concepts and the best ways to utilize information. Make a note of new contacts and make a plan to follow up!
We will be posting throughout the conference on our social media pages. If you will be attending the BDO Alliance conference, let us know and we will follow you!
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